BY ALEX DADAMU
SOLOMON TOURISM MEDIA REPORTER
IN 1999, Mathaias, Olman Native Selwyn Salega, Tony Kedeau, Silas Suali, Rawcliff Saeni, Junior Casper Luiramo, Nickson Lani, Simon Ramoifai, Paul Sikwaae, and Quincy Sira, started a remarkable chapter in the history of reggae in Solomon Islands – with the first ever live concert by a band called The Native Stoneage at the heart of their home province in Alligegeo, Malaita province.
Over the weekend, Solomon Tourism Media exclusively observed the Native Stoneage 21st Celebratory Anniversary, the band management organized a Live show and took fans and listeners down their musical journey – the challenges, hardships, and accomplishments the band has endured during the past 21 years since when the rural lads from East Fataleka made their debut into the local musical scene.
The celebratory event was held on Sunday 20 December at the Auditorium, National Museum compound in Honiara.
The humble anecdote of Native Stoneage begins one day way back in 1999 at the band’s Live Show concert organized at Alligegeo in Malaita Province. It was during that Live Show that the rural lads announced their entrance into the Solomon Islands musical scene.
During the ethnic tension which drove the country to its knees in the early 2000s, the band slowly make its way up the music scene with the inspiration of big names in the country’s music industry, the likes of Apprentice, Unisound, and others.
Straight after the ethnic tension, the band recorded their first album called, ‘Deeper inner Love’, on an 8 track analog studio which was located back then, at a space, which is now a garage opposite King George 6 School bus stop. The album became an instant sensation both locally and regionally.
Many both near and far fall in Love with Native Stoneage from then on because of their lyrics which focuses on politics, poverty, and religion – it touched and even healed their soul because when the ‘Deeper Inner Love’ album was released, people are being greatly traumatized by the ethnic unrest happening in the country.
According to accounts being told, the band’s first album caught the attention of Unisound studio, and the late owner, David Chow offered Native Stoneage the contract to record their second album, ‘Running Water’ at the Unisound studio.
The ‘Running Water’ album and the third which is called ‘Kulu Leka’ was also a hit and by then, the band was now famous locally amongst the Honiara populace and also regionally around the islands in the Pacific. Native Stoneage has become a household name for many people.
In 2008, the band established a ‘sister relationship’ with the region’s big name in reggae music from Vanuatu the ‘Naio’ band.
The relationship saw the two legendary reggae bands played side by side in concerts both in Honiara and Vanuatu.
The last time fans in Honiara have the chance to witness Native Stoneage and Naio band performing live together on stage was back in 2017 at the National Museum when the two bands held a concert to raise money in aid of the National Referral Hospital (NRH) Labour Ward.
The 21st Anniversary celebrations on Sunday were a success and speaking as a guest of honor during the celebrations, Honourable Peter Kenilorea Junior expressed appreciation to the band for, what he termed as, “the positive messages which touched the hearts of many people both near and far.”
“Solomon Islands Leaders should start to realize that we have our power through music, through our culture – we are a diverse group of people and our diversity is our strength,” said Honourable Peter Kenilorea Junior when addressing a crowd of fans and supporters who gathered to mark the 21st Anniversary of the Native Stoneage band over the weekend.